Under the Radar

'Wounded: The Battle Back Home' - Nico: Operation Healthy Mind

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The Wounded Warrior Project is marking its tenth anniversary with a new documentary series called Wounded: The Battle Back Home. Episode 6 is called “Nico: Operation Healthy Mind” and profiles Army veteran Robert “Nico” Gil's spiral into depression and his long road to recovery as he learns to cope with symptoms from PTSD. The cameras follow as Nico meets with fellow soldiers through Wounded Warrior Project and finally gains a support network, helping him to return to school, start a veteran support group on campus, and finally make progress on his life goals.

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The debilitating toll of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become the signature wound of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nico suffered a devastating traumatic brain injury from an insurgent’s improvised explosive device while serving his second tour in Iraq. He experienced tremors, temporary paralysis, and hallucinations among intense bouts of anxiety. These symptoms continued past Nico’s military service when he was discharged. In early 2009, when Nico finally returned home to New York City, he turned to the local Veterans Affairs hospital for help in putting his life back on track. However, the staff never talked to Nico about PTSD, and he was not able to attach a name to what he was experiencing. The stress of returning home without a post-combat plan, failing grades at school, and continued symptoms from PTSD, culminated in a suicide attempt in 2010. Nico’s turning point came when he reached out to the nonprofit service organization, Wounded Warrior Project.

Wounded: The Battle Back Home airs Sunday, May 25 at 1 PM ET / 10:00 AM PT as part of “Taking the Hill” on MSNBC.

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